I set my book, Beyond the Pale, in Ireland so when I started researching, I read a lot of no-fiction, on the history and culture of the country, but I didn’t want to stop there. I also spent a fair amount of time reading novels by Irish writers and fell in love with a few.

 

Here are my top 5 in no particular order:

Ken Bruen

Author of the famous Jack Taylor series, set in his native Galway, Bruen is the master of the kind of noir fiction and the classic private detective. His main character is the star and more important to me than the story. He takes what could have been a cliché – an alcoholic kicked out of the police and looking for redemption – and makes him a real person. The Guards is the first in the series, and the place to start.

  

Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle is a Dublin-born writer who published his first book in 1987. He mainly writes about life in working class Dublin, and his book include pretty well-known ones like The Commitments and The Snapper, both of which were made into films. I fell in love with his dialogue, which is funny and smart and heartbreaking, all at once. My favorite (so far) is A Star Called Henry, with the 1916 Easter Rebellion as its backdrop.

  

My Favourite Irish Writers

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Tana French

A crime writer extraordinaire who tackles the world of Dublin police in work that is gritty but very character-based. In The Woods was her first, and is excellent, but my favorite is The Likeness, about a woman who looks like a murder victim. Haunting.

 

  

Brendan Behan

One of Ireland’s most famous playwrights, he was a man whose life was almost as interesting as his work. His work is lyrical, compassionate, wise. He wrote about prison and capital punishment in his landmark play The Quare Fellow, which is dark and comical and sad. My favorite of his works is Borstal Boy, a memoir-ish novel about his time in a youth detention center. The dialogue is amazing, and the characters jump off the page. It was banned in Ireland for about a decade though I’m not sure why – it’s celebrated now.

  

Julie Parsons

A New Zealand-born writer, turned Dubliner, she writes psychological thrillers that curl your toes. Mary Mary was her first, about a woman whose daughter was murdered and its my favorite of her books. Her work is intelligent and complex, and will keep you up at night.